*Candlism are kindly gifting a coffee table candle for one lucky person to win*
For my birthday last year; a friend of mine gave me a lovely little candle in a cute brown, glass jar. It still smells amazing! I immediately looked up where it had come from and realised these candles are hand poured locally and sold online and in the Zero Waste Shop down the road from me in Caterham. I went back and bought two more. I have always loved candles and used to shop at Wax Lyrical and The Pier for mine a long time ago, when both shops used to be in Croydon. I do find certain smells to be very nostalgic and the Night Blooming Jasmine candle took me straight back to holidaying in Greece and standing under an arch of sweet jasmine.
So, I decided to get in touch with Justine, the owner of Candlism to ask her a few questions about how she started off her small business. I am also loving the fact that she is local too.
There is also a lovely giveaway - read on!
Tell us a bit about yourself and where you are based?
So I am originally from West Norwood, South London but now live in Coulsdon, Surrey or Greater London as I prefer to call it ha ha! I live with my partner Ben, my two boys Seb and Jesse and our two dogs and two cats - so it's a pretty full house!
Before lockdown, I had quite a few markets around South London, the West Norwood Feast which is a regular monthly market, the cookery market in Streatham Common and the Oval Market in Kennington every two weeks. Obviously, currently I can't take part in them so I have been focusing on my website. Even though the government have said they are going to reopen outdoor markets, I have decided that I'll probably only do the West Norwood Feast which is the first Sunday of every month.
What made you decide to start making your own candles?
I have always loved candles and anything that smells nice! For a long time I used incense until I figured that the smoke from it isn't very good for you.
Scent is important for evoking memories and feelings and it can really help you to relax and unwind at the end of the day or invigorate and just create a certain ambience at home. I also find that taking candles with you on holiday or whilst working away can help to instantly relax you when you're away from home but you need a little something familiar to help you feel at ease in new surroundings.
For years I would buy candles that would smell amazing initially but then as soon as I'd burn them, they either wouldn't smell at all or would burn half way down then go out! I always felt frustrated by the waste of it all. Even the lovely jars they came in, I'd just throw out because I couldn't find a use for them, until I decided to have a go at making them myself.
So, for the first half of 2019 I taught myself how to make them. It wasn't an easy task and I'm always learning. Each fragrance reacts differently depending on what wax and wick I use, so each candle needs to be rigorously tested again and again before it's perfected.
I aim to make all my candles burn evenly, use up all the wax (so as not to tunnel like most paraffin candles for example - this is where the wax doesn't melt to the edge of the jar and instead causes a narrow hole or tunnel down the middle of the candle which means the flame will extinguish too early and there will be no scent as the flame isn't large enough.)
How do you come up with the ideas for your scent combinations?
To be honest I just go with what I like. I test fragrances that I like the sound of and then give testers out to friends and family for their opinions. Once I gauge what is the most popular, I make up a batch, put them on the website and see how they do.
I'm always trialling new fragrances and equally ditching old ones that aren't so popular. It's always evolving but I'm getting to the stage where certain fragrances like Night Blooming Jasmine, Black Pomegranate and Black Rose & Oud seem to be firm favourites and I'd say are my signature fragrances. I also have a Christmas Tree candle that was so popular last year, it sold out within a day. I had made just shy of 100 candles! It really is the exact smell of a Christmas tree. My customers love it. I love feedback from customers, good or bad as it helps me to decide which fragrances to keep or not.
Where can we buy your candles from?
You can go to the Candlism website or direct message me on Instagram. I'm happy to take bespoke orders and if anyone has a certain fragrance they want but cant find, I'm happy to help source it for them.
What sizes do you offer?
So initially I had quite a range of sizes: small 60ml, medium 120ml, large 180ml and extra large 500ml but moving forward I will be phasing out the small and medium as they are the least popular sizes and it also makes it's harder for me to produce a wide range and combinations.
I am hoping to introduce a new monthly subscription box but haven't finalised the details yet so do keep an eye out!
So, you are eco-friendly, what materials do you use?
I only use soy wax which is biodegradable and vegan. My wicks are all cotton and lead free. The glass jars I use are made from recycled glass and I also encourage customers to keep hold of their empties for a refill. Customers refilling old jars (it simply swapping old for new) get a 15% discount on their new candle.
The lovely Justine has kindly offered one lucky person the chance to win one of her coffee table candles (worth £25) in a fragrance of your choice.
For a further chance to win please comment below on this post and tell us what your favourite scent is.
The competition will close on Friday, June 5th, 2020 ant 8.00pm GMT and a winner will be chosen at random and contacted. It is open to UK residents only and entrants must be over 18. No cash alternative. Provision of the prize is the responsibility of the publisher. This giveaway is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Instagram.